$.05 Toy Hovercraft / Helicopter

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Introduction: $.05 Toy Hovercraft / Helicopter

About: USAF - Spec. Communications, Telemetry & Data Networking, Microwave Networks, Aeronautics Interests: Metal working, Electronics and Botany (especially wild edible plants, "Feed the world with weeds")

This instructable will show you how to make a simple toy hovercraft for small children. It is suitable for daycare projects, science projects (aerodynamics and gyroscopes) as well as general fun. This is a project can be built by small children since it requires no cutting.

Step 1: What You Will Need.

2 - Styrofoam cups of the same size (8 oz or 16 oz)
8" or 21cm - Masking tape
4 - Medium rubber bands

Step 2: If You Build It ... It Will Fly ...

Take the length of tape and tape the bottom of the cups together. Now loop the rubber bands together drawing the knot closed firmly. Repeat with each rubber band until they form a chain.

Step 3: Here's the Wind-up, and the Pitch!

Wind the bands around the middle of the cup using medium tightness. Winding it too tight will cause the cups to collapse. I recommend winding over the cups and coming out underneath. This method gives me a better launch, but feel free to experiment.

Step 4: Have Fun!

When you are ready to launch, hold the cups between your thumb and index finger with the first digit of your finger inside the loop of the bands.
Next release your thumb and pull your hand away like you would a top. It will hover for a few seconds and slowly descend to the ground.
Timing of the release and pull is important for a good flight. If the first couple of flights don't do so well, keep practicing. You will get the hang of it in no time at all.
This toy can be played with indoors as well as outside. The picture below was of one launched out of a 2nd floor window. Enjoy!

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    88 Comments

    Sweet!  Built one and tried it out with my kids, they didnt quite get it but loved watching it "hover".  Had my 8 yr old shoot a video of me flying it for you- pretty poor quality but you get the idea. 

    1 reply

    AWESOME!!! Hope your kids and you have fun playing with it!

    thats pretty cool and btw your son is a better filmer than most 8 year olds

    I am SOOOO going to use this when I babysit....

    In the first picture I thought you magically made it stay on the wall

    i'll try to make it!

    Okay... So I got to "experimenting" with this and was just going to post some things here, but I got a little out of hand. I ended up building a bigger version of this that was a little different, so I made my own instructable referencing this one. I also dug up some more info on the Magnus Effect. You can see it here: The 50 CENT Hovercraft  

    This is a great, and deceptively simple, project! If you're still around five years after posting it, it would be really awesome if you could add a step (or even just a paragraph in the intro) on the aerodynamics behind it.

    As someone else posted, it's clearly driven by the Magnus effect, but I think having a description in the content itself would be beneficial, especially for people wanting to implement it in a classroom environment.

    1 reply

    Very nice and simple. If I'm not mistaken this uses the magnus effect to get some lift, hence the need for lightweight material. As well a textured surface is needed (like the surface of your golf/tennis ball)

    Could this toy be called a kind of diabolo?

    Please put a video!

    wait, i just read the whole thing

    Kids, this is definitely more productive than HACKING. Please do this instead of messing around with other people's webcams and/or changing the wallpaper of your nemesis' computer.

    2 replies

    Remember the days when hacking something, meant taking an axe or a pick and trying to get something off the ground?

    yes but some people think HACKING is funner lol